BRIAN CODY dissected yesterday’s Kilkenny-Offaly clash with neat precision in the bowels of O’Moore Park, Laois, yesterday.
“I thought the first-half was a fiercely competitive game, we got a nice start, a few points, but Offaly came back strongly. It was up and down the field, great commitment from both sides, great skill, great tackling all over the field.
“Obviously a goal was going to be a big score. Henry (Shefflin) made a break, gave it to Martin (Comerford) and he got that vital goal for us, almost on the stroke of half-time. That was a big lift for us, a bit of a downer for them, because on the balance of play, if we were level at half-time that would have been reasonable.
“We went on and picked it up in the second half and got a few points on the board; the gap was beginning to widen, it was tough going then [for them], but I thought Offaly were brilliant while they were going well.”
Neat and precise, just like we said. Cody had a word of praise for Cork referee John Sexton as well: “I thought it was a great championship first-half, the intensity was serious, it was genuine hurling, great tackling, the referee wasn’t being fussy, he wasn’t blowing it up, he was letting it go ahead.
“There was a great pace to it, great scores in it which were hard-earned; not a huge number of them but the ones being taken were very good.”
Was it hard to prepare a team against the expectation of an easy win? The Cats boss reacts exactly as you’d expect.
“You’ve got to treat that with the stupidity it deserves. Last year this game was a huge battle, we had to be flat out to get into the situation where we could drive on — this year was the same.
“You can say what you like beforehand but with the intensity Offaly showed, the championship-style hurling they brought to the game, if we had gone out any way off the mark we’d have been blown away by half-time, and that’s the reality of it.
Asked to choose between the Kilkenny defence and attack for garlands, the manager showed the wisdom of Solomon.
“The defence was strong but 26 scores isn’t bad either!” said Cody. “It was teamwork, we had to go flat out for the whole match; obviously the last ten or 15 minutes the game was over, but up to half-time, certainly, it needed a massive effort from all 15 players, from those we brought on as well.”
One of the big talking points, of course, was the return of the king. Henry Shefflin ended with eleven points. “He’s worked himself to a standstill to make this game, this has been his target the whole time,” said Cody. “He gets back from the game what he puts into it. It’s great to see him out there today, everyone could see the wonderful skills he brings to the game, they’re easy to see, but it’s the work-rate he brings to the team, the leadership, that’s more serious for us. Henry is Henry, and his coming back is great for us. He’s shown he’s lost none of his power.”
Cody enjoyed Saturday night’s Wexford-Dublin clash, and didn’t waste time talking up the opposition Kilkenny will face in the Leinster final.
“That was a good game, I really enjoyed it. Dublin were superb in the first half and got some top class scores, though obviously Wexford’s two goals were crucial.
“In the second half Wexford turned it around, were excellent, and they dominated. It’s going to be an interesting replay, we won’t know ‘til this time next week who we’re meeting in the Leinster final but either team will be serious opposition.”
So no gloomy headlines about the state of Leinster hurling?
“I don’t know about that, I won’t be writing those anyway!”
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